MANILA, Philippines – A sugarcane plantation laborer was gunned down in Sagay City, Negros Occidental early Friday morning, February 22, in what the National Federation of Sugar Workers claimed was the 21st politically-motivated extrajudicial killing on Negros Island under the Duterte administration.
The NFSW said Ronald Manlanat, 30, a member of its Hacienda Joefred chapter in Barangay Luna, was working in the fields when he was shot in the head with an M16 rifle by still unknown assailants at around 5 a.m.
His murder was also the second killing of a union member in Sagay since city chapter chair Flora Gemola was stabbed dead last December.
Hinting of a possible motive for Manlanat’s murder, NFSW said he had been active in “organizing and giving assistance to sugar workers in the surrounding areas” and had “been receiving threats for participating in the land cultivation campaign in Barangay Luna, where the hacienda workers and farmers called for the implementation of agrarian reform.”
The farm workers in Hacienda Joefred had recently received their certificates of land ownership award to the sugarcane plantation.
NFSW secretary general Christian Tuayon urged authorities to solve Manlanat’s murder, which he linked to government’s counterinsurgency campaign and to alleged moves by state forces protecting the interests of the island’s landed elite.